This is me approaching the finish line at the Pikes Peak Marathon in August 1979. I went with my high school cross-country teammates, Skip Garcia and Chris Ekstrom. It was right before the start of my senior year. I was 16.
The first half of the race was up a 14,000-foot mountain, and the second half was back down. You could run one way (up) or both ways. The previous year I'd just run to the summit.
I wasn't sure when I started this race whether I was going to go both ways. But Ekstrom--the guy in the blue warm-ups in the photo below--beat me to the summit by two minutes. He got an early lead. I was certain I'd catch him.
When I didn't, my only option was to turn around and head back down the mountain, as if that had been my plan all along and I was simply pacing myself.
Looking back, I was in a pretty good place. I was having a good summer, a good year. I had a girlfriend. I was happy. Most of all, I was at that crucial tipping point between knowing that I wanted something more out of life than staying in my hometown, but still having the security of living there. It's easy, when you stand at the bottom of the diving board, to say you can't wait to jump off.
It's the only marathon I ever ran. I'm kind of glad Ekstrom beat me to the summit.
BTW, I found it on Google Maps: